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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Stand Your Ground' changes pass Florida Senate. Now it's on the House.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, left, confers with Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, during the debate of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill during session, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tallahassee.

Steve Cannon / AP

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, left, confers with Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, during the debate of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill during session, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tallahassee.

16

March

This could be the year the Republican-led Florida Legislature succeeds in enacting a controversial change to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law that prosecutors warn could lead to a flood of self-defense claims and would force state attorneys to essentially try cases twice.

For the second consecutive session, Florida senators on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 128) from Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley to shift the burden of proof — from the defendant to the prosecutor — during the pretrial phase of “Stand Your Ground” cases.

The Senate voted 23-15 on Wednesday, mostly along party lines and drawing praise from Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

“If a prosecutor doesn’t have the evidence to prevail at this immunity hearing ... the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to win at trial,” said Bradley, himself a former prosecutor. “Innocent people will not go free as a result of this bill; this bill isn’t about creating loopholes.”

Now it’s up to the House to finish considering its bill (HB 245), which already passed the milestone of clearing the same committee that abruptly killed it before the 2016 session began. It faces only one more hearing — a signal it’s marked as a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.

In Wednesday’s Senate vote, Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores — Negron’s No. 2 in the chamber — broke party ranks and voted with 14 Democrats in opposition, even though she previously approved the bill twice in committee earlier this year.

More here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:13pm]

    

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